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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Stone Fruit Breeding and Development

Location: Fruit and Nut Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop improved varieties of peaches and plums for the southeastern United States, and improved clonal and seedling rootstocks for peach and other stone fruits.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Superior breeding lines and varieties with unique characters are hybridized, and the best seedlings selected. These selections are tested in multiple years and locations to identify those truly superior to existing varieties in terms of productivity, firmness and quality. These are then named and released for the public to grow. Parental rootstock lines with superior resistance to peach tree short life and Armillaria root rot as well as other desirable traits, are intercrossed to produce seedlings with the desired characteristics. Extensive testing is used to identify those hybrids which have the requisite combination of disease resistance and horticultural traits for successful commercial use.

3. Progress Report:
Significant progress was realized over the 5 years of this project. Several new peach varieties that provide substantial improvements on old standards were released for use by the main season southeastern U.S. peach industry. A new white-flesh variety for use by early season producers of the lower coastal plain was released that represents an entirely new market segment for this industry and which builds on the complete replacement of the varietal mix for this industry that was accomplished over the 2 previous project cycles. A new ornamental peach with unique visual attributes was released as well. All of these releases build on our continuing commitment to keep these industries competitive and well supplied with adapted, reliable varieties that will be well received in the market place, while reducing pesticide usage and attendant management costs. This progress will continue with the release of more new varieties during the next project cycle as we continue to incorporate new genes (several of which were first identified in this program) and develop novel solutions to the problems facing this industry. A new area of research addressed during this project cycle was the development of molecular markers for chilling requirement and bacterial spot resistance. Both of these characteristics are important performance traits that were known to be controlled by multiple genes and, hence, were difficult to breed efficiently using classical methodology. These markers make possible marker assisted selection which will allow the reliable identification of selections possessing these traits even in years when climactic conditions or low disease pressure might otherwise make it difficult if not impossible using conventional approaches. The new project was written to reflect our commitment to developing additional molecular tools to streamline the breeding progress. Two new rootstocks for use with peach were released during the 5 year cycle. Both selections were ground breaking for their broad disease resistance and vigor control. At this time there is nothing like them in the market place. These rootstocks provide the first credible alternatives to the chemical controls formerly used (and in several instances now banned). This work finally brings into fruition the commitment to develop such alternatives that was made 25 years earlier with the inception of a rootstock breeding project at this location. Elite rootstock selections in the development pipeline will ultimately see release during the next CRIS cycle and will provide still more tools for growers to deal with the entrenched soil borne disease problems that have developed over the hundred plus year history of this important regional industry. This bridging project was replaced with project #6606-21000-004-00D.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 05/29/2017
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